Welcome to the human sexuality portal
Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. Because it is a broad term, which has varied over time, it lacks a precise definition. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions, including the human sexual response cycle. Someone's sexual orientation can influence that person's sexual interest and attraction for another person. Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality include bonds between individuals that are expressed through profound feelings or physical manifestations of love, trust, and care. Social aspects deal with the effects of human society on one's sexuality, while spirituality concerns an individual's spiritual connection with others. Sexuality also affects and is affected by cultural, political, legal, philosophical, moral, ethical, and religious aspects of life.
Interest in sexual activity typically increases when an individual reaches puberty. Opinions differ on the origins of an individual's sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Some argue that sexuality is determined by genetics, while others believe it is molded by the environment, or that both of these factors interact to form the individual's sexual orientation. This pertains to the nature versus nurture debate. In the former, one assumes that the features of a person innately correspond to their natural inheritance, exemplified by drives and instincts; the latter refers to the assumption that the features of a person continue to change throughout their development and nurturing, exemplified by ego ideals and formative identifications.
Evolutionary perspectives on human coupling, reproduction and reproduction strategies, and social learning theory provide further views of sexuality. Socio-cultural aspects of sexuality include historical developments and religious beliefs. Examples of these include Jewish views on sexual pleasure within marriage and some views of other religions on avoidance of sexual pleasures. Some cultures have been described as sexually repressive. The study of sexuality also includes human identity within social groups, sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), and birth control methods.
Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts, ranging from activities done alone (e.g., masturbation) to acts with another person (e.g., sexual intercourse, non-penetrative sex, oral sex, etc.) in varying patterns of frequency, for a wide variety of reasons. Sexual activity usually results in sexual arousal and physiological changes in the aroused person, some of which are pronounced while others are more subtle. Sexual activity may also include conduct and activities which are intended to arouse the sexual interest of another or enhance the sex life of another, such as strategies to find or attract partners (courtship and display behaviour), or personal interactions between individuals (for instance, foreplay or BDSM). Sexual activity may follow sexual arousal.
Human sexual activity has sociological, cognitive, emotional, behavioural and biological aspects; these include personal bonding, sharing emotions and the physiology of the reproductive system, sex drive, sexual intercourse and sexual behaviour in all its forms.
In some cultures, sexual activity is considered acceptable only within marriage, while premarital and extramarital sex are taboo. Some sexual activities are illegal either universally or in some countries or subnational jurisdictions, while some are considered contrary to the norms of certain societies or cultures. Two examples that are criminal offences in most jurisdictions are sexual assault and sexual activity with a person below the local age of consent.
Male (or external) condoms
can be used to cover the penis
, fingers, or other body parts for safer sex.
is sexual activity
using methods or devices (such as condoms
) to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring sexually transmitted infections
(STIs), especially HIV
. "Safe sex" is also sometimes referred to as safer sex
or protected sex
to indicate that some safe sex practices do not completely eliminate STI risks. It is also sometimes used to describe methods aimed at preventing pregnancy.
The concept of safe sex emerged in the 1980s as a response to the global AIDS epidemic
. Promoting safe sex is now one of the aims of sex education
and STI prevention, especially reducing new HIV infections. Safe sex is regarded as a harm reduction
strategy aimed at reducing risks of STI transmission.
Although some safe sex practices (like condoms) can also be used as birth control
(contraception), most forms of contraception do not protect against STIs. Likewise, some safe sex practices, like partner selection and low-risk sex behavior, may not be effective forms of contraception. Read more...
Alfred Charles Kinsey
Kinsey in Frankfurt, November 1955
; June 23, 1894 – August 25, 1956) was an American biologist
, professor of entomology
, and sexologist
who in 1947 founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University
, previously known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction
. He is best known for writing Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
(1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
(1953), also known as the Kinsey Reports
, as well as the Kinsey scale
. Kinsey's research on human sexuality
, foundational to the field of sexology
, provoked controversy in the 1940s and 1950s. His work has influenced social and cultural values in the United States, as well as internationally. Read more...
is a variety of often erotic
practices or roleplaying
, dominance and submission
, and other related interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification
and shared experience.
The term "BDSM" is first recorded in a Usenet
posting from 1991, and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism). BDSM is now used as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships
, and distinct subcultures. BDSM communities generally welcome anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with the community; this may include cross-dressers
, body modification
enthusiasts, animal roleplayers
, rubber fetishists
, and others.
Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are often characterized by the participants taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent
of both the partners is essential. The terms "submissive" and "dominant" are often used to distinguish these roles: the dominant partner ("dom") takes psychological control over the submissive ("sub"). The terms "top" and "bottom" are also used: the top is the instigator of an action while the bottom is the receiver of the action. The two sets of terms are subtly different: for example, someone may choose to act as bottom to another person, for example, by being whipped, purely recreationally, without any implication of being psychologically dominated by them, or a submissive may be ordered to massage their dominant partner. Despite the bottom performing the action and the top receiving they have not necessarily switched roles. Read more...
Margaret Higgins Sanger
(born Margaret Louise Higgins
, September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966, also known as Margaret Sanger Slee
) was an American birth control
activist, sex educator
, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term "birth control", opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Sanger used her writings and speeches primarily to promote her way of thinking. She was prosecuted for her book Family Limitation
under the Comstock Act
in 1914. She was afraid of what would happen, so she fled to Britain until she knew it was safe to return to the US. Sanger's efforts contributed to several judicial cases that helped legalize contraception in the United States. Due to her connection with Planned Parenthood, Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of abortion
. However, Sanger drew a sharp distinction between birth control and abortion and was opposed to abortion through the bulk of her career. Sanger remains an admired figure in the American reproductive rights
movement. She has been criticized for supporting eugenics
In 1916, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, which led to her arrest for distributing information on contraception
, after an undercover policewoman bought a copy of her pamphlet on family planning. Her subsequent trial and appeal generated controversy. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, they needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to prevent so-called back-alley abortions
, which were common at the time because abortions were illegal in the United States. She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid them. Read more...
a clinical diagnosis
used by mental healthcare
professionals for extremely frequent or suddenly increased libido
were terms previously used for the condition, in women and men respectively.
Hypersexuality may be a primary condition, or the symptom of another medical disease or condition, for example Klüver-Bucy syndrome
or bipolar disorder
. Hypersexuality may also present as a side effect of medication such as drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease
, or through the administering of hormones such as testosterone
during hormone therapy
Clinicians have yet to reach a consensus over how best to describe hypersexuality as a primary condition, or to determine the appropriateness of describing such behaviors and impulses as a separate pathology.
Hypersexual behaviours are viewed variously by clinicians and therapists as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD) or "OCD-spectrum disorder", an addiction, or a disorder of impulsivity. A number of authors do not acknowledge such a pathology and instead assert that the condition merely reflects a cultural dislike of exceptional sexual behavior. Read more...
is the personal sense of one's own gender
. Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex
at birth, or can differ from it. All societies have a set of gender categories that can serve as the basis of the formation of a person's social identity
in relation to other members of society. In most societies, there is a basic division between gender attributes assigned to males and females, a gender binary
to which most people adhere and which includes expectations of masculinity
in all aspects of sex and gender
: biological sex
, gender identity, and gender expression
. Some people do not identify with some, or all, of the aspects of gender assigned to their biological sex; some of those people are transgender
, genderqueer or non-binary
. There are some societies that have third gender
Core gender identity is usually formed by age three. After age three, it is extremely difficult to change, and attempts to reassign it can result in gender dysphoria
. Both biological and social factors have been suggested to influence its formation. Read more...
is the sexual stimulation
of one's own genitals
for sexual arousal
or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm
. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers
, everyday objects, sex toys
such as vibrators
, or combinations of these. Manual stimulation of a partner, such as fingering
, a handjob
or mutual masturbation
, is a common sexual act and can be a substitute for penetration
. Studies have found that masturbation is frequent in humans of both sexes and all ages, although there is variation. Various medical and psychological benefits have been attributed to a healthy attitude toward sexual activity in general and to masturbation in particular. No causal
relationship is known between masturbation and any form of mental or physical disorder.
Masturbation has been depicted in art since prehistoric times and is mentioned and discussed in very early writings. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some European theologians and physicians described it as "heinous", "deplorable", and "hideous", but during the 20th century these taboos
generally declined. There has been an increase in discussion and portrayal of masturbation in art, popular music, television, films, and literature. Today, religions vary in their views
of masturbation; some view it as a spiritually detrimental practice, some see it as not spiritually detrimental, and others take a situational
view. The legal status of masturbation has also varied through history and masturbation in public is illegal in most countries.
In the Western world
, masturbation in private or with a partner is generally considered a normal and healthy part of sexual enjoyment. Animal masturbation
has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity. Read more...
consciously or unconsciously creates a symbolic representation of the phallus
. Buildings intentionally or unintentionally resembling the human penis are a source of amusement to locals and tourists in various places around the world. Deliberate phallic imagery is found in ancient cultures and in the links to ancient cultures found in traditional artifacts.
The ancient Greeks
celebrated phallic festivals and built a shrine with an erect phallus to honor Hermes
, messenger of the gods. Those figures may be related to the ancient Egyptian
who was depicted holding his erect phallus. Figures of women with a phallus for a head have been found across Greece and Yugoslavia
. Phallic symbolism was prevalent in the architectural tradition of ancient Babylon
. The Romans
, who were deeply superstitious, also often used phallic imagery in their architecture and domestic items. The ancient cultures of many parts of the Far East
, including Indonesia
, used the phallus as a symbol of fertility in motifs on their temples and in other areas of everyday life.
Scholars of anthropology
, and feminism
have pointed out the symbolic nature of phallic architecture, especially large skyscrapers
which dominate the landscape as symbols of male domination, power and political authority. Towers and other vertical structures may unintentionally or perhaps subconsciously have those connotations. There are many examples of modern architecture that can be interpreted as phallic, but very few for which the architect has specifically cited or admitted that meaning as an intentional aspect of the design. Read more...
is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity
in exchange for payment
. Prostitution is sometimes described as sexual services
, commercial sex
or, colloquially, hooking
. It is sometimes referred to euphemistically as "the world's oldest profession
" in the English-speaking world
. A person who works in this field is called a prostitute
, and is a type of sex worker
Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms, and its legal status
varies from country to country
(sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession. It is one branch of the sex industry
, along with pornography
, and erotic dancing
are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution
, the act may take place at the client's residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort's residence or a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (in-call). Another form is street prostitution
. Although the majority of prostitutes are female and have male clients, a prostitute can be, and have clients of, any gender
or sexual orientation
There are about 42 million prostitutes in the world, living all over the world (though most of Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa lacks data, studied countries in that large region rank as top sex tourism
destinations). Estimates place the annual revenue generated by prostitution worldwide to be over $100 billion. Read more...
or exotic dancer
is a person whose occupation involves performing striptease
in a public adult entertainment venue such as a strip club
. At times, a stripper may be hired to perform at a bachelor party
or other private event.
forms of stripping minimize interaction by strippers with customers, reducing the importance of tease
in the performance in favor of speed to undress (strip
). Not every stripper will end a performance completely nude
, though full nudity is common where not prohibited by law
. The integration of the burlesque pole
as a nearly ubiquitous prop has shifted the emphasis in the performance toward a more acrobatic, explicit
expression compared to the slow-developing burlesque style. Most strippers work in strip clubs. A "house dancer" works for a particular club or franchise
, while a "feature dancer" tends to have her own celebrity
, touring a club circuit making appearances. Entertainers (dancers) are often not actual employees of the club itself but perform as independent contractors
Until the 1970s, strippers in Western cultures were almost invariably female, performing to male audiences. Since then, male strippers have also become common. Certain male and female strippers also perform for LGBT
audiences as well as for both sexes in pansexual
contexts. Before the 1970s, dancers of both sexes appeared largely in underground clubs or as part of a theatre
experience, but the practice eventually became common enough on its own. Performances are usually fully choreographed, involve dance routines and a costume of some sort. The term "male stripper" has gone down in use in books in the 21st century. Read more...
The relationship between biology and sexual orientation
is a subject of research. While scientists do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation
, they theorize that a combination of genetic, hormonal, and social factors determine it. Hypotheses for the impact of the post-natal social environment on sexual orientation, however, are weak, especially for males.
Biological theories for explaining the causes of sexual orientation are favored by scientists and involve a complex interplay of genetic factors, the early uterine environment and brain structure. These factors, which may be related to the development of a heterosexual
, or asexual
orientation, include genes
, prenatal hormones
, and brain
structure. Read more...
is the lack of sexual attraction
to others, or low or absent interest in or desire
for sexual activity
. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation
, or one of the variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality
. It may also be categorized more widely
to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities
Asexuality is distinct from abstention from sexual activity
and from celibacy
, which are behavioral and generally motivated by factors such as an individual's personal or religious beliefs. Sexual orientation, unlike sexual behavior, is believed to be "enduring". Some asexual people engage in sexual activity despite lacking sexual attraction or a desire for sex, due to a variety of reasons, such as a desire to pleasure themselves or romantic partners, or a desire to have children.
Acceptance of asexuality as a sexual orientation and field of scientific research
is still relatively new, as a growing body of research from both sociological and psychological perspectives has begun to develop. While some researchers assert that asexuality is a sexual orientation, other researchers disagree. Read more...
Memorial to comfort women, Philippines
were women and girls forced into sexual slavery
by the Imperial Japanese Army
in occupied territories before and during World War II
The name "comfort women" is a translation of the Japanese ianfu
(慰安婦), a euphemism for "prostitute
(s)". Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 (by Japanese conservative historian Ikuhiko Hata
) to as high as 360,000 to 410,000 (by a Chinese scholar); the exact numbers are still being researched and debated. Most of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea
, and the Philippines
. Women were used for military "comfort stations" from Burma
(then a Japanese dependency
), the Dutch East Indies
, Portuguese Timor
, and other Japanese-occupied territories. Stations were located in Japan
, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya
, New Guinea
, Hong Kong
, and French Indochina
. A smaller number of women of European origin were also involved from the Netherlands
with an estimated 200–400 Dutch women alone.
According to testimonies, young women were abducted from their homes in countries under Imperial Japanese rule. In many cases, women were lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants, or opportunities for higher education; once recruited, they were incarcerated in comfort stations both inside their nations and abroad. Read more...
) is principally the insertion and thrusting
of the penis
, usually when erect
, into the vagina
for sexual pleasure
, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse
or vaginal sex
. Other forms of penetrative
sexual intercourse include anal sex
(penetration of the anus
by the penis), oral sex
(penetration of the mouth by the penis or oral penetration of the female genitalia
(sexual penetration by the fingers), and penetration by use of a dildo
(especially a strap-on dildo
). These activities involve physical intimacy
between two or more individuals and are usually used among humans solely for physical or emotional
pleasure and can contribute to human bonding
There are different views on what constitutes sexual intercourse or other sexual activity
, which can impact on views on sexual health
. Although sexual intercourse
, particularly the variant coitus,
generally denotes penile–vaginal penetration and the possibility of creating offspring
, it also commonly denotes penetrative oral sex and penile–anal sex, especially the latter. It usually encompasses sexual penetration, while non-penetrative sex
has been labeled "outercourse", but non-penetrative sex may also be considered sexual intercourse. Sex
, often a shorthand for sexual intercourse
, can mean any form of sexual activity. Because people can be at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections
during these activities, safe sex
practices are advised, although transmission risk is significantly reduced during non-penetrative sex.
Various jurisdictions have placed restrictive laws against certain sexual acts, such as incest
, sexual activity with minors
and extramarital sex
beliefs also play a role in personal decisions about sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, such as decisions about virginity
, or legal and public policy matters. Religious views on sexuality
vary significantly between different religions and sects of the same religion, though there are common themes, such as prohibition of adultery
. Read more...
The Kama Sutra
, pronunciation (help·info)
) is an ancient Indian Sanskrit
text on sexuality, eroticism and emotional fulfillment in life. Attributed to Vātsyāyana
, the Kama Sutra
is neither exclusively nor predominantly a sex manual
on intercourse positions, but written as a guide to the "art-of-living" well, the nature of love, finding a life partner, maintaining one's love life, and other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life. Kamasutra
is the oldest surviving Hindu text on erotic love. It is a sutra
-genre text with terse aphoristic verses that have survived into the modern era with different bhasya
(exposition and commentaries). The text is a mix of prose and anustubh
-meter poetry verses. The text acknowledges the Hindu concept of Purusharthas
, and lists desire, sexuality, and emotional fulfillment as one of the proper goals of life. Its chapters discuss methods for courtship, training in the arts to be socially engaging, finding a partner, flirting, maintaining power in a married life, when and how to commit adultery, sexual positions, and other topics. The majority of the book is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, and how and when it is good or bad.
The text is one of many Indian texts on Kama Shastra
. It is a much-translated work in Indian and non-Indian languages. The Kamasutra
has influenced many secondary texts that followed after the 4th-century CE, as well as the Indian arts as exemplified by the pervasive presence Kama-related reliefs and sculpture in old Hindu temples
. Of these, the Khajuraho
in Madhya Pradesh
is a UNESCO world heritage site. Among the surviving temples in north India, one in Rajasthan
sculpts all the major chapters and sexual positions to illustrate the Kamasutra
. According to Wendy Doniger, the Kamasutra
became "one of the most pirated books in English language" soon after it was published in 1883 by Richard Burton. This first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra
because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes. Read more...
Diagram of the female human reproductive tract and ovaries
, the vagina
is the elastic, muscular part of the female genital tract
. In humans, it extends from the vulva
to the cervix
. The outer vaginal opening is normally partly covered by a membrane called the hymen
. At the deep end, the cervix (neck of the uterus
) bulges into the vagina. The vagina allows for sexual intercourse
. It also channels menstrual flow
(menses), which occurs in humans and closely related primates
as part of the monthly menstrual cycle
Although research on the vagina is especially lacking for different animals, its location, structure and size is documented as varying among species. Female mammals usually have two external openings in the vulva, the urethral
opening for the urinary tract
and the vaginal opening for the genital tract. This is different from male mammals, who usually have a single urethral opening
for both urination
. The vaginal opening is much larger than the nearby urethral opening, and both are protected by the labia
in humans. In amphibians
, the cloaca
is the single external opening for the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary, and reproductive tracts.
To accommodate smoother penetration of the vagina during sexual intercourse or other sexual activity
, vaginal moisture increases during sexual arousal
in human females and other female mammals. This increase in moisture provides vaginal lubrication
, which reduces friction. The texture of the vaginal walls creates friction for the penis
during sexual intercourse and stimulates it toward ejaculation
, enabling fertilization
. Along with pleasure and bonding, women's sexual behavior with others (which can include heterosexual
sexual activity) can result in sexually transmitted infections
(STIs), the risk of which can be reduced by recommended safe sex
practices. Other health issues
may also affect the human vagina. Read more...
The internal anatomy of the human vulva
, with the clitoral hood
and labia minora
indicated as lines. The clitoris extends from the visible portion to a point below the pubic bone.
) is a female sex organ
present in mammals
and a limited number of other animals
. In humans, the visible portion - the glans - is at the front junction of the labia minora
(inner lips), above the opening of the urethra
. Unlike the penis
, the male homologue
(equivalent) to the clitoris, it usually does not contain the distal
portion (or opening) of the urethra and is therefore not used for urination. The clitoris also usually lacks a reproductive
function. While few animals urinate through the clitoris or use it reproductively, the spotted hyena
, which has an especially large clitoris, urinates, mates, and gives birth via the organ. Some other mammals, such as lemurs
and spider monkeys
, also have a large clitoris.
The clitoris is the human female's most sensitive erogenous zone
and generally the primary anatomical
source of human female sexual
pleasure. In humans and other mammals, it develops from an outgrowth in the embryo
called the genital tubercle
. Initially undifferentiated, the tubercle develops into either a penis or a clitoris, depending on the presence or absence of the protein tdf
, which is codified by a single gene on the Y chromosome
. The clitoris is a complex structure, and its size and sensitivity can vary. The glans (head) of the human clitoris is roughly the size and shape of a pea, and is estimated to have about 8,000 sensory nerve endings
, medical, and psychological debate have focused on the clitoris, and it has been subject to social constructionist
analyses and studies. Such discussions range from anatomical accuracy, gender inequality
, female genital mutilation
, and orgasmic
factors and their physiological explanation for the G-spot
. Although, in humans, the only known purpose of the clitoris is to provide sexual pleasure, whether the clitoris is vestigial
, an adaptation
, or serves a reproductive function has been debated. Social perceptions of the clitoris include the significance of its role in female sexual pleasure, assumptions about its true size and depth, and varying beliefs regarding genital modification
such as clitoris enlargement
, clitoris piercing
. Genital modification may be for aesthetic
, medical or cultural reasons. Read more...
are venues where strippers
provide adult entertainment
, predominantly in the form of striptease
or other erotic
or exotic dances. Strip clubs typically adopt a nightclub
style, and can also adopt a theatre
-style. American-style strip clubs began to appear outside North America
after World War II
, arriving in Asia
in the late 1980s and Europe in the 1978, where they competed against the local English and French styles of striptease and erotic performances.
As of 2005, the size of the global strip club industry
to be US$75 billion. In 2002, the size of the U.S. strip club industry was estimated to be US$3.1 billion, generating 19% of the total gross revenue in legal adult entertainment
. SEC filings
and state liquor control records available at that time indicated that there were at least 2,500 strip clubs in the United States, and since that time, the number of clubs in the U.S. has grown. Profitability of strip clubs, as with other service-oriented businesses, is largely driven by location and customer spending habits. The better appointed
a club is, in terms of its quality of facilities, equipment, furniture, and other elements, the more likely customers are to encounter cover charges and fees for premium features such as VIP rooms. The popularity of a given club is an indicator of its quality, as is the word-of-mouth
among customers who have visited a cross section of clubs in different regions.
The strip club as an outlet for salacious
entertainment is a recurrent theme in popular culture
. In some media, these clubs are portrayed primarily as gathering places of vice
and ill repute
. Clubs themselves and various aspects of the business are highlighted in these references. "Top Strip Club" lists in some media have demonstrated that U.S.-style striptease is a global phenomenon and that it has also become a culturally accepted form of entertainment, despite its scrutiny in legal circles and popular media. Popular Internet sites for strip club enthusiasts also have lists calculated from the inputs of site visitors. The legal status of strip clubs has evolved over the course of time, with national and local laws becoming progressively more liberal on the issue around the world, although some countries (such as Iceland) have implemented strict limits and bans. Strip clubs are frequent targets of litigation around the world, and the sex industry, which includes strip clubs, is a hot button issue in popular culture and politics. Some clubs have been linked to organized crime
. Read more...
The age of consent
is the age below which a minor is considered to be legally incompetent
to consent to sexual acts
. Consequently, an adult who engages in sexual activity with a minor younger than the age of consent cannot claim that the sexual activity was consensual
, and such sexual activity may be considered statutory rape
. The person below the minimum age is regarded as the victim and their sex partner is regarded as the offender, unless both are underage. The purpose of setting an age of consent is to protect an underage person from sexual advances.
The term age of consent
rarely appears in legal statutes
. Generally, a law will instead establish the age below which it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with that person. It has sometimes been used with other meanings, such as the age at which a person becomes competent to consent to marriage
, but the meaning given above is the one now generally understood. It should not be confused with other laws regarding age minimums including, but not limited to, the age of majority
, age of criminal responsibility
, voting age
, drinking age
, and driving age
Age of consent laws vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, though most jurisdictions set the age of consent in the range 14 to 18. The laws may also vary by the type of sexual act, the gender of the participants or other considerations, such as involving a position of trust
; some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a single age. Charges and penalties resulting from a breach of these laws may range from a misdemeanor
, such as corruption of a minor
, to what is popularly called statutory rape
. Read more...
is a sheath-shaped barrier device
, used during sexual intercourse
to reduce the probability of pregnancy
or a sexually transmitted infection
(STI). There are both male and female condoms
. With proper use—and use at every act of intercourse—women whose partners use male condoms experience a 2% per-year pregnancy rate. With typical use the rate of pregnancy is 18% per-year. Their use greatly decreases the risk of gonorrhea
, hepatitis B
, and HIV/AIDS
. They also to a lesser extent protect against genital herpes
, human papillomavirus
(HPV), and syphilis
The male condom is rolled onto an erect penis
before intercourse and works by blocking semen
from entering the body of a sexual partner. Male condoms are typically made from latex
and less commonly from polyurethane
or lamb intestine. Male condoms have the advantages of ease of use, easy to access, and few side effects. In those with a latex allergy
a polyurethane or other synthetic version should be used. Female condoms are typically made from polyurethane and may be used multiple times.
Condoms as a method of preventing STIs have been used since at least 1564. Rubber condoms become available in 1855, followed by latex condoms in the 1920s. They are on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines
, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system
. The wholesale cost in the developing world
is about 0.03 to US$0.08 each. In the United States condoms usually cost less than US$1.00. Globally less than 10% of those using birth control
are using the condom. Rates of condom use are higher in the developed world
. In United Kingdom the condom is the second most common method of birth control (22%) while in the United States it is the third most common (15%). About six to nine billion are sold a year. Read more...
(previously known as sexual perversion
and sexual deviation
) is the experience of intense sexual arousal
to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals. Such attraction may be labeled sexual fetishism
. No consensus has been found for any precise border between unusual sexual interests
and paraphilic ones. There is debate over which, if any, of the paraphilias should be listed in diagnostic manuals, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM) or the International Classification of Diseases
The number and taxonomy of paraphilia is under debate; one source lists as many as 549 types of paraphilia. The DSM-5
has specific listings for eight paraphilic disorders. Several sub-classifications of the paraphilias have been proposed, and some argue that a fully dimensional, spectrum or complaint-oriented approach would better reflect the evidence. Read more...
attraction, sexual attraction
, or sexual behavior
toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex
or gender identity
; this latter aspect is sometimes alternatively termed pansexuality.
The term bisexuality
is mainly used in the context of human attraction to denote romantic or sexual feelings toward both men and women, and the concept is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation
along with heterosexuality
, all of which exist on the heterosexual–homosexual continuum
. A bisexual identity does not necessarily equate to equal sexual attraction to both sexes; commonly, people who have a distinct but not exclusive sexual preference for one sex over the other also identify themselves as bisexual.
Bisexuality has been observed in various human societies and elsewhere in the animal kingdom throughout recorded history
. The term bisexuality
, however, like the terms hetero-
, was coined in the 19th century. Read more...
is a homosexual
woman. The word lesbian
is also used for women in relation to their sexual identity
or sexual behavior
regardless of sexual orientation
, or as an adjective to characterize or associate nouns with female homosexuality or same-sex attraction.
The concept of "lesbian", to differentiate women with a shared sexual orientation, is a 20th-century construct. Throughout history, women have not had the same freedom or independence to pursue homosexual relationships as men, but neither have they met the same harsh punishment as homosexual men in some societies. Instead, lesbian relationships have often been regarded as harmless and incomparable to heterosexual
ones unless the participants attempted to assert privileges traditionally enjoyed by men. As a result, little in history was documented to give an accurate description of how female homosexuality is expressed. When early sexologists
in the late 19th century began to categorize and describe homosexual behavior, hampered by a lack of knowledge about homosexuality or women's sexuality, they distinguished lesbians as women who did not adhere to female gender
roles and incorrectly designated them mentally ill—a designation which has been reversed in the global scientific community.
Women in homosexual relationships responded to this designation either by hiding their personal lives or accepting the label of outcast and creating a subculture and identity
that developed in Europe and the United States. Following World War II
, during a period of social repression when governments actively persecuted homosexuals, women developed networks to socialize with and educate each other. Greater economic and social freedom allowed them gradually to be able to determine how they could form relationships and families. With second wave feminism
and growth of scholarship in women's history and sexuality in the 20th century, the definition of lesbian
broadened, sparking a debate about sexual desire as the major component to define what a lesbian is. Some women who engage in same-sex sexual activity may reject not only identifying as lesbians but as bisexual
as well, while other women's self-identification as lesbian may not align with their sexual orientation or sexual behavior. Sexual identity is not necessarily the same as one's sexual orientation or sexual behavior, due to various reasons, such as the fear of identifying their sexual orientation in a homophobic
setting. Read more...
(or sexual malfunction
or sexual disorder
) is difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple during any stage of a normal sexual activity
, including physical pleasure, desire
, preference, arousal
. According to the DSM-5
, sexual dysfunction requires a person to feel extreme distress and interpersonal
strain for a minimum of six months (excluding substance or medication-induced sexual dysfunction). Sexual dysfunctions can have a profound impact on an individual's perceived quality of sexual life. The term sexual disorder
may not only refer to physical sexual dysfunction, but to paraphilias
as well; this is sometimes termed disorder of sexual preference
A thorough sexual history and assessment of general health and other sexual problems (if any) are very important. Assessing performance anxiety
are integral to the optimal management of sexual dysfunction. Many of the sexual dysfunctions that are defined are based on the human sexual response cycle
, proposed by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson
, and then modified by Helen Singer Kaplan
. Read more...
involving a child, and it is a form of commercial sexual exploitation of children
. The term normally refers to prostitution of a minor
, or person under the legal age of consent
In most jurisdictions, child prostitution is illegal as part of general prohibition on prostitution.
Child prostitution usually manifests in the form of sex trafficking
, in which a child is kidnapped
or duped into becoming involved in the sex trade, or "survival sex
", in which the child engages in sexual activities to procure basic essentials such as food and shelter. Prostitution of children is commonly associated with child pornography
, and they often overlap. Some people travel to foreign countries to engage in child sex tourism
. Research suggests that there may be as many as 10 million children involved in prostitution worldwide. The problem is most severe in South America
, but prostitution of children exists globally, in undeveloped countries as well as developed. Most of the children involved with prostitution are girls, despite an increase in the number of young boys in the trade.
The United Nations
has declared the prostitution of children to be illegal under international law, and various campaigns and organizations have been created to protest its existence. Read more...
(from Greek πολύ poly
, "many, several", and Latin amor
") is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships
with more than one partner, with the consent
of all partners involved. It has been described as "consensual, ethical
, and responsible non-monogamy
". People who identify as polyamorous believe in an open relationship
with a conscious management of jealousy; they reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving
has come to be an umbrella term
for various forms of non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships, or non-exclusive sexual or romantic
relationships. Its usage reflects the choices and philosophies
of the individuals involved, but with recurring themes
, such as love, intimacy, honesty
, and commitment
. Read more...
) is a psychiatric disorder
in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction
children. Although girls typically begin the process of puberty
at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12, criteria for pedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years old, and at least five years older than the prepubescent child, for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.
Pedophilia is termed pedophilic disorder
in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
), and the manual defines it as a paraphilia
involving intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies
about prepubescent children that have either been acted upon or which cause the person with the attraction distress or interpersonal
difficulty. The International Classification of Diseases
) defines it as a "sustained, focused, and intense pattern of sexual arousal—as manifested by persistent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, or behaviours—involving pre-pubertal children."
In popular usage, the word pedophilia
is often applied to any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse
. This use conflates the sexual attraction to prepubescent children with the act of child sexual abuse, and fails to distinguish between attraction to prepubescent and pubescent or post-pubescent minors
. Researchers recommend that these imprecise uses be avoided, because although people who commit child sexual abuse are sometimes pedophiles, child sexual abuse offenders are not pedophiles unless they have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children, and some pedophiles do not molest children. Read more...
is an enduring pattern of romantic
attraction (or a combination of these) to persons of the opposite sex
, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality
, and bisexuality
, while asexuality
(the lack of sexual attraction to others) is sometimes identified as the fourth category.
These categories are aspects of the more nuanced nature of sexual identity
and terminology. For example, people may use other labels, such as pansexual
, or none at all. According to the American Psychological Association
, sexual orientation "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions". Androphilia and gynephilia
are terms used in behavioral science
to describe sexual orientation as an alternative to a gender binary
describes sexual attraction to masculinity
describes the sexual attraction to femininity
. The term sexual preference
largely overlaps with sexual orientation, but is generally distinguished in psychological research. A person who identifies as bisexual, for example, may sexually prefer one sex over the other. Sexual preference
may also suggest a degree of voluntary choice, whereas the scientific consensus
is that sexual orientation is not a choice.
Scientists do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic
, and environmental influences
. They favor biologically-based theories
, which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors. Hypotheses for the impact of the post-natal social environment on sexual orientation, however, are weak, especially for males. There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role with regard to sexual orientation. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum
, from exclusive attraction to the opposite sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. Read more...
attraction, sexual attraction
or sexual behavior
between members of the same sex
. As a sexual orientation
, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others
who share those attractions."
Along with bisexuality
, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum
. Scientists do not know what determines an individual's sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic
, and environmental influences
, and do not view it as a choice. They favor biologically-based theories
, which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors. Hypotheses for the impact of the post-natal social environment on sexual orientation, however, are weak, especially for males. There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role with regard to sexual orientation. While some people believe that homosexual activity is unnatural, scientific research has shown that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation in human sexuality
and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation
The most common terms for homosexual people are lesbian
for females and gay
for males, but gay
also commonly refers to both homosexual females and males. The percentage of people who are gay or lesbian and the proportion of people who are in same-sex romantic relationships or have had same-sex sexual experiences are difficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons, including many gay and lesbian people not openly identifying as such due to prejudice
such as homophobia
. Homosexual behavior has also been documented in many non-human animal species
. Read more...
attraction, sexual attraction
or sexual behavior
between persons of the opposite sex
. As a sexual orientation
, heterosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to persons of the opposite sex; it "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."
Along with bisexuality
, heterosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum
. Someone who is heterosexual is commonly referred to as straight.
The term heterosexual
is usually applied to humans
, but heterosexual behavior is observed in all mammals
and in other animals. Read more...
"excitement, swelling"; also sexual climax
) is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle
, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions
in the pelvic
region characterized by sexual pleasure. Experienced by males and females, orgasms are controlled by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system
. They are often associated with other involuntary actions, including muscular spasms
in multiple areas of the body, a general euphoric
sensation and, frequently, body movements and vocalizations. The period after orgasm (known as the refractory period
) is often a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin
as well as endorphins
(or "endogenous morphine
Human orgasms usually result from physical sexual stimulation
of the penis
in males (typically accompanying ejaculation
), and the clitoris
in females. Sexual stimulation can be by self-practice (masturbation
) or with a sex partner
, non-penetrative sex
, or other sexual activity
The health effects surrounding the human orgasm are diverse. There are many physiological responses during sexual activity, including a relaxed state created by prolactin, as well as changes in the central nervous system
such as a temporary decrease in the metabolic
activity of large parts of the cerebral cortex
while there is no change or increased metabolic activity in the limbic
(i.e., "bordering") areas of the brain. There is also a wide range of sexual dysfunctions
, such as anorgasmia
. These effects impact cultural views of orgasm, such as the beliefs that orgasm and the frequency/consistency of it are either important or irrelevant for satisfaction in a sexual relationship, and theories about the biological and evolutionary functions of orgasm. Read more...
Sexually transmitted infections
"Syphilis is a dangerous disease, but it can be cured." Poster encouraging treatment. Published between 1936 and 1938.
), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases
), are infections
that are commonly spread
by sexual activity
, especially vaginal intercourse
, anal sex
and oral sex
. Many times STIs initially do not cause symptoms. This results in a greater risk of passing the disease on to others. Symptoms and signs of disease may include vaginal discharge
, penile discharge
, ulcers on or around the genitals
, and pelvic pain
. STIs can be transmitted to an infant
before or during childbirth and may result in poor outcomes for the baby. Some STIs may cause problems with the ability to get pregnant
More than 30 different bacteria
, and parasites
can be transmitted through sexual activity. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia
, and syphilis
. Viral STIs include genital herpes
, and genital warts
. Parasitic STIs include trichomoniasis
. While usually spread by sex, some STIs can be spread by non-sexual contact with donor tissue, blood, breastfeeding
, or during childbirth
. STI diagnostic tests are usually easily available in the developed world
, but this is often not the case in the developing world.
The most effective way of preventing STIs is by not having sex
. Some vaccinations may also decrease the risk of certain infections including hepatitis B
and some types of HPV
. Safer sex
practices such as use of condoms
, having a smaller number of sexual partners, and being in a relationship where each person only has sex with the other also decreases the risk. Circumcision
in males may be effective to prevent some infections. During school, comprehensive sex education
may also be useful. Most STIs are treatable or curable. Of the most common infections, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are curable, while herpes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and HPV are treatable but not curable. Resistance to certain antibiotics
is developing among some organisms such as gonorrhea. Read more...
, also known as contraception
and fertility control
, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy
. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth control only became available in the 20th century. Planning, making available, and using birth control is called family planning
. Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally, religiously, or politically undesirable.
The most effective methods of birth control are sterilization
by means of vasectomy
in males and tubal ligation
in females, intrauterine devices
(IUDs), and implantable birth control
. This is followed by a number of hormone-based methods
including oral pills
, vaginal rings
, and injections
. Less effective methods include physical barriers
such as condoms
and birth control sponges
and fertility awareness methods
. The least effective methods are spermicides
and withdrawal by the male before ejaculation
. Sterilization, while highly effective, is not usually reversible; all other methods are reversible, most immediately upon stopping them. Safe sex
practices, such as with the use of male or female condoms
, can also help prevent sexually transmitted infections
. Other methods of birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Emergency birth control
can prevent pregnancy if taken within the 72 to 120 hours after unprotected sex. Some argue not having sex
as a form of birth control, but abstinence-only sex education
may increase teenage pregnancies
if offered without birth control education, due to non-compliance.
, pregnancies are at greater risk of poor outcomes. Comprehensive sex education
and access to birth control decreases the rate of unwanted pregnancies in this age group. While all forms of birth control can generally be used by young people, long-acting reversible birth control
such as implants, IUDs, or vaginal rings are more successful in reducing rates of teenage pregnancy. After the delivery of a child, a woman who is not exclusively breastfeeding may become pregnant again after as few as four to six weeks. Some methods of birth control can be started immediately following the birth, while others require a delay of up to six months. In women who are breastfeeding, progestin-only methods
are preferred over combined oral birth control pills
. In women who have reached menopause
, it is recommended that birth control be continued for one year after the last period. Read more...
people have a gender identity
or gender expression
that differs from their assigned sex
. Transgender people are sometimes called transsexual
if they desire medical assistance to transition
from one sex to another. Transgender
is also an umbrella term
: in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men
and trans women
), it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine (people who are genderqueer or non-binary
, including bigender
, genderfluid, or agender). Other definitions of transgender
also include people who belong to a third gender
, or else conceptualize transgender people as
a third gender. Infrequently, the term transgender
is defined very broadly to include cross-dressers
, regardless of their gender identity.
Being transgender is independent of sexual orientation
: transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual
, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. The term transgender
is also distinguished from intersex
, a term that describes people born with physical sex characteristics "that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies". The counterpart of transgender
, which describes persons whose gender identity or expression matches their assigned sex.
The degree to which individuals feel genuine, authentic, and comfortable within their external appearance and accept their genuine identity has been called transgender congruence
. Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria
, and some seek medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapy
, sex reassignment surgery
, or psychotherapy
. Not all transgender people desire these treatments, and some cannot undergo them for financial or medical reasons. Read more...
Female genital mutilation
), also known as female genital cutting
and female circumcision
, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia
. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common. UNICEF
estimated in 2016 that 200 million women living today in 30 countries—27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan
and Yemen—have undergone the procedures.
Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five. Procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group
. They include removal of the clitoral hood
and clitoral glans
; removal of the inner labia
; and removal of the inner and outer labia
and closure of the vulva
. In this last procedure, known as infibulation
, a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid
; the vagina
is opened for intercourse and opened further for childbirth.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality
, attempts to control women's sexuality
, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour and fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion
. Adverse health effects depend on the type of procedure; they can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain
, the development of cysts
, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding. There are no known health benefits. Read more...
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Montage showing vulva diversity